Melaleuca to Point Eric
South Coast Track
Directions - The South Coast Track starts (or finishes) at Melaleuca Airstrip, a 30 minute flight from Hobart that can be booked via Par Avion (see website for details). Alternatively, you can walk in from the end of Scotts Peak Dam Road via the Port Davey Track, although this will add a further 70km of walking to your itinerary.
The Hike - With a long bucket list of hikes to do in Tasmania, the South Coast Track was always towards the top of said list, so when I mentioned that I was planning on doing it around Christmas of 2022 to my podcast partner, a discussion was ignited. Donovan also had the SCT as a must-do for the near future but with a baby on the way, it might not be a possibility. A deal was struck with his wife that if she didn't have to hike the SCT, then he could join me on this 85km, seven day adventure through the wilds of South West Tasmania.
Plans were made, dates set and logistics organised over the next few months and come December 2022, we would be flying out to Melaleuca to begin what was a memorable and fantastical journey through large swathes of pristine wilderness (spoiler alert for future posts). We asked our friend Bronwyn if she wanted to join us and she agreed, so the three of us made separate plans to get to Hobart before the Par Avion flight left on the 31st of December. After a couple of days in Hobart before the trip exploring the Pinnacle Circuit and Cape Raoul, I headed to the various outdoor stores in the Hobart CBD to get the last of my supplies before we caught a taxi to the Par Avion hangar for the flight out there. It sounds so much more adventurous when you say that you caught a small aircraft out to the middle of nowhere to start a hike but that's pretty much what you do on the SCT. The airstrip now services hikers and tourists to the remote area near Bathurst Harbour but was once a tin mining settlement. Arriving at the Par Avion building, there were plenty of hikers already waiting and as it turned out, there were three flights this afternoon heading to Melaleuca.
We checked in our heavy packs, paid for our gas cannisters (given to you at Melaleuca) and most importantly for Donovan, we bought our SCT patches. Separated into our various groups, we would luckily be in the front of the largest plane for the 45 minute flight. There was a nervous excitement to starting the seven day hike and after watching the weather forecasts like a hawk, it appeared we would be getting a fairly decent week. The flight was amazing, leaving Hobart and heading south through the Huon Valley before turning westwards, spotting Hartz Peak in the distance and then the mountainous interior all the way to Melaleuca. I had a blast taking dozens of photos as the views kept changing and we safely touched down after getting a good view of the SCT as it headed south towards Cox Bight. There was a buzz of activity at the airstrip as excited hikers grabbed their bags, gas cannisters and moved off the shelter where the rain tanks are located (you have to fill up here so as not to carry excess water weight on the plane). I checked out the public huts to the north as that's where the toilets were (bit of a trek) and eventually joined Donovan and Bronwyn to begin our SCT journey.